Social Security Disability Hearing

The hearing in a Social Security disability case is a good opportunity to win your benefits for several reasons. This is the first time you are able to explain to a decision-maker why you are disabled in your own words. This is also the stage at which most people decide it is time to get a lawyer to help them with their claim. It is a good idea to hire a lawyer if you have not done so already at this point because they are experienced in the courtroom and should be able to help you present your case in a way that gives you the best chance to win. There may also be medical and vocational experts at the hearing and having a lawyer who is experienced in SSDI and SSI hearings will know how to cross examine these experts. They may also have knowledge of the ALJ and what is important to that particular Administrative Law Judge. Attorneys who have handled many Social Security disability hearings will also know what questions need to be asked and will be able to sum up the theory of your case. The time it takes to get a hearing is extremely long so you do not want to waste this opportunity to win your case.


What to expect at SSD or SSI Hearing

So what happens at the hearing? In attendance at the hearing will be the Administrative Law Judge also the ALJ. Also in attendance, is a hearing reporter that does not participate in the hearing, but is there to record the testimony that takes place during the hearing. The claimant and his or her representative or lawyer if they have one will also be present. In some situations there may be one or more medical experts and or a vocational expert. If the claimant does not speak English, or does not speak English well, an interpreter will also be present. The Administrative Law Judge is not bound by any previous decision made on your claim. They are considered separate and independent of the Social Security Administration. The hearing will start with the ALJ briefly going through the exhibits in the file and marking them into evidence. The ALJ will also ask if there is any objections to any of the evidence in the file. If there is no objections, from either the claimant or the claimant's lawyer then the ALJ will give a summary of the laws that govern his decision and other information. How the hearing is conducted from here depends largely on the individual ALJ's preference. They may ask the claimant or claimant's lawyer if they have any opening remarks before the hearing is started. The ALJ will then begin asking questions of the claimant, or he may ask the lawyer to do so. Both the administrative law judge and a lawyer will have an opportunity to ask questions of the claimant during the course of the hearing. If there are experts present then they will be questioned about the case and asked for their opinions on certain things relevant to their expertise. Again, both the ALJ and lawyer have an opportunity to question these experts about the case and their opinions.

After all the questions have been asked the ALJ may ask the lawyer, if you have one, for any closing remarks. The ALJ may also ask claimant if they have anything they would like to say before the hearings closed. In some cases, the record may be left open for additional evidence or the ALJ may send the claimant for additional exams. If there is no additional evidence being waited for then the administrative law judge will make a decision and have it written up. In rare circumstances, the administrative law judge will tell you his decision at the hearing. Normally, however, you can expect the decision in about one or two months from the date of your hearing.  It does sometimes take several months depending on the particular hearing office.  You can find more information on Social Security Disability hearings at my other website page on the subject.

If you get an unfavorable decision or a partially favorable decision you are not satisfied with you can then file a request for reconsideration at the Appeals Council.